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Tuesday, August 21, 2018 News

Can OER Save Students $1 Billion?

Open Education

As the Open Education Conference approaches this October, it’s time to look back and respond to the challenge we issued five years ago: has the OER movement saved students more than $1 billion?

Five Years Ago…

At the 2013 Open Education Conference in Park City, Utah, a dozen leaders of OER projects got up on stage to announce the movement had collectively saved students $100 million. We then issued a bold challenge to make that $1 billion in student savings by 2018.

Back in 2013, the OER movement was in a very different place. OpenStax was in its early days with just a handful of titles, Tidewater Community College’s groundbreaking Z-Degree was in its first semester, and the BCcampus Open Textbook Project was celebrating its one year anniversary. Creative Commons licenses were still in version 3.0, and only a handful of academic libraries had started OER programs.

Over the last five years, the OER field has undergone a significant transformation. Nearly half of U.S. states have OER policies or major initiatives, and nearly 1 in 10 faculty across the nation are using OER. Delegates from more than 100 countries endorsed an OER action plan at last year’s World OER Congress, and academic libraries have become a driving force in the movement.

As the 2018 Open Education Conference approaches this October, it’s time to look back and respond to the challenge we issued five years ago: has the OER movement saved students more than $1 billion worldwide?

Documenting $1 Billion in Savings

Over the next two months, SPARC will be working to collect information about student savings using the same methodology as 2013. We will unveil the findings at the 15th Annual Open Education Conference this October in Niagara Falls.

The plan is simple. We are asking members of the community to report information on the total number of students (or more specifically, student enrollments) who have used OER in place of traditional textbooks over time. We will coallate information broken down by institution and academic year, and multiply it by a standardized per-student savings estimate. The goal is to collect enough data on OER use to add up to $1 billion in savings.

While we recognize that financial savings is only one way to measure the impact of OER, it is an important way to quantify the benefits for students and society. We hope you will join us!

Get Involved

We are calling on open education practitioners from all fields—professors, librarians, content creators, and administrators—to contribute any data you have on enrollment in courses that have used OER.

  • Everyone: Anyone who is interested in contributing OER enrollment data to this project can sign up using this form. We’ll follow up with more details on how to submit your information. You can also get more details here.
  • Connect OER Participants: If your institution participates in SPARC’s Connect OER platform, student savings data for this project can be submitted through the Annual Impact Report function. For more information on how to get started, please visit the relevant section of our FAQ.

No matter what the savings numbers show at the end of the day, we have seen with our own eyes over the last five years how OER has broadly benefitted students in myriad ways. But, saving students $1 billion is an important milestone for the movement to reach, so we hope you will help us prove it!

Learn more about our work